The United States military said that two marines died Sunday in western Iraq and that an additional seven service members died Saturday. The deaths brought the weekend toll to 27 and made Saturday the third-deadliest day for United States forces since the war here began.
Seven of the deaths announced Sunday, including those of three marines, were caused by "enemy action" in Anbar Province, a restive stronghold of the Sunni insurgency, while another soldier was killed Saturday in Baghdad by a roadside bomb, the military statements said.
New details also emerged about clashes on Saturday in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, which left five Americans dead. Lt. Col. Scott R. Bleichwehl, an American military spokesman, said the gunmen who stormed the provincial governor's office during a meeting between American and local officials were wearing what appeared to be American military uniforms in an effort to impersonate United States soldiers.
The sophisticated attack hinted at what could be a new threat for American troops as they start a fresh security plan centered on small bases in Baghdad's bloodiest neighborhoods, where soldiers will live and work with Iraqi forces. Military officials have said that one of their greatest concerns is that troops will be vulnerable to attack from killers who appear to be colleagues.
The above is from Damien Cave's "U.S. Toll in Iraq Is 27 for Deadly Weekend" in this morning's New York Times. We're going to use the above (an article worth reading -- but I'm talking about the figures) to underscore why we're probably dropping ICCC as our point of reference. "And the war drags on" (last night/this morning) notes their current figure and we fall back and note the one from the Sunday before to get 25 in seven days. With 27 reported by Cave, with deaths reported during last week, there's no reason in the world ICCC's count should only show a 25 increase since the Sunday before last. AP's count on Sunday was 3,057. (ICCC's was and is 3054.) Continue to weigh in on your decision but that's why many members are complaining about the ICCC count. This has been going on for almost two weeks (three days shy of) and it's not just being less than the AP count, it's also that the figure goes up and down.
Aseel Kami (Reuters) reports on some of today's violence:
Two simultaneous car bombs blasted a busy market in central Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 67 people in fresh violence that came as Iraqis waited the start of a planned U.S.-backed offensive in the capital.
After a relative lull in violence in the capital at the weekend, the car bombs exploded barely a second apart in a market for second-hand goods in the crowded Bab al-Sharji area, just after midday (0900 GMT).
Deputy Health Minister Hakim al-Zamely told Reuters that 142 people were wounded and the death toll of 67 could rise.
It was the bloodiest attack since at least 70 people were killed in a double bombing outside a Baghdad university six days ago. Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki blamed those attacks on supporters of Saddam Hussein reacting to the execution of the ousted president. Such insurgents are mostly Sunni Arabs.
Reuters reporters heard the two blasts, which sent thick clouds of black smoke into the air.
Later in the report, the issue of the US troops being sent to Iraq is raised and that's not a given. There are about 3,000 more US troops who have been sent over as part of Bully Boy's desired escalation; however, they just arrived and they are not with Iraqi forces currently.
Not in the report but what will probably pop up in reports done later today and published tomorrow -- the US military is attempting ("on background") to play down the violence and sell it as "They know we're coming and this is their last ditch efforts before we get more troops on the ground."
Whose last ditch effort does the background qualify as? The violence isn't going away and the escalation will be a failure. Already in the last few days anyone paying attention can see why. But watch and see which reporters fall for the 'background' and watch even closer to see, since this won't be credited, which 'analysis' tries to pass off the official US military talking point as their own observation.
ADDED: This is from Borzou Daragahi's "Two Marines killed in Al Anbar province bring the toll to at least 27, The cause of a Black Hawk copter crash is still under investigation" (Los Angeles Times) on the same topic Cave is reporting on:
Two Marines were killed Sunday in Al Anbar province west of the capital, bringing the weekend U.S. death toll to at least 27, a dramatic increase in fatalities that comes as President Bush is trying to convince a wary public of his plan to escalate the military presence in Iraq.
The U.S. military also reported that at least five more U.S. soldiers and one Marine had died in separate combat incidents in Baghdad and Al Anbar on Saturday, the third-deadliest day for American forces since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Another 44 Iraqis were killed or found dead in political and sectarian violence, including the bombing of a bus in a middle-class Shiite Muslim neighborhood of Baghdad that left seven dead and 15 injured.
A British soldier was killed Sunday when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb in the southern city of Basra. Four British soldiers were injured in the blast.
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